Crate Diggin’: Songs: Ohia’s S/T (That’s Not Metal?!)

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Jason Molina died from alcoholism in 2013 at the age of 39. His friend Henry Owings wrote that Molina “cashed out on Saturday night in Indianapolis with nothing but a cell phone in his pocket”.

You may see this as sad, romantic, or stupid, depending on your own perception, attitude, and knowledge of alcoholism and substance abuse. Self destruction is a theme often covered in heavy metal, but not always with the vivid realism of being presented with death in our lives. Jason Molina was a prolific artist in his life, and left the world a wealth of his distinctive blend of folk, country, and indie rock. He performed as Songs: Ohia, The Magnolia Electric Company, under his own name, and collaborated with artists in and around his native Ohio on his records and theirs. Interestingly, I learned Molina also played bass in various heavy metal bands before developing his own musical identity. I discovered him after his death and likely in accordance with it, as dying before your time often brings press and praise to the works an artist leaves behind. Crate Diggin’ has covered old (by my standard, 1999) metal, very rare and underground metal, and local metal to date. Let’s take a look and have a listen to a little known album outside the spectrum of metal which has shaped my listening habits from the first time I heard it.

They come in sorry for the second vanquisher to have so much to pretend
Themselves not so against though overtaken
This we’ll survive, surviving those
Against the smell of rope through pulley sing
There are fewer greater losses known
They have their affect they have their ransom
This will survive

– from “Cabwaylingo”, Songs: Ohia’s opening track.

Songs: Ohia was released in 1997. The album is almost solely anchored by Molina’s singing and guitar playing. He makes excellent use of a minimalist style here. Later Songs: Ohia albums would feature fuller instrumentation and guest players and singers; Songs: Ohia is credited to Molina as singer, player, and composer. Molina’s lyrics are poignant and haunting; sometimes straightforward, sometimes cryptic. For a slow, soft album the whole thing is surprisingly catchy. Everything works together to stick in your mind; at this point it’s impossible for me to listen to this album without loudly singing along to it. My only complaint is the dramatic increase in volume near the end of “Gualey Bridge.” It’s just too loud and doesn’t fit with the dynamics around it. Songs: Ohia benefits from a concise, 35-minute run time of 14 tracks. It’s easy to push play and listen to the whole thing at home or while taking a drive. I’m looking at you here, Michael Gira.

I’ve listened to this album at least 100 times from front to back and it remains my favorite Songs: Ohia record alongside The Magnolia Electric Company (perhaps his magnum opus).

Lately, and this is just me thinking out loud, I have found folk and dark folk like Songs: Ohia, Wovenhand, and Man’s Gin to be sort of like weirdo cousins to heavy metal. They’re both music for the weird kids, or adults as the case may be. Of course, Man’s Gin shares a member with USBM favorite Cobalt, Erik Wunder. It’s similar to how heavy metal and underground hip hop can be seen as distant kin. Both have obsessive fans that categorize numerous subgenres and memorize facts about the tiniest details in each respective genre.

If you aren’t bashing your skull into tiny fragments from Tyree’s latest grind find at the moment, check out Songs: Ohia and the rest of Molina’s work. His is an impressive legacy, and something worthwhile to sift through for those of us who discovered him after his time.

 

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  • RE: “I have found folk and dark folk like Songs: Ohia,Wovenhand, and Man’s Gin to be sort of like weirdo cousins to heavy metal”. Fully agreed!

    I present “Glenn Tipton”, a fantastic murder ballad from one of my favorite albums ever. “Some like KK Downing, more than Glenn Tipton…”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YjA3EbKsl4E

    • Edward Meehan

      I’m pausing Lou Reed’s Perfect Day to play this song now.

    • W.

      Heron Blue never manages to bum me out.

      • I’m just a big fan of a ton of Mark Kozelek’s material.

        • W.

          Oops, meant always

    • Janitor Jim Dvggan

      This is beautiful.

    • old_man_doom

      +1 on Wovenhand and Man’s Gin. Very heavy shit in a very untraditional sense.

  • Metaphysical Anus

    This is nice. You are nice.

    • Edward Meehan

      ‘preciate that, Anus.

  • Metaphysical Anus

    I really enjoyed the latest Circle album. They changed things up and did some nice folk stuff.
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=5LoUl936ZKM

    • Metaphysical Anus

      And of course Kveldssanger from Ulver.
      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=nkUv_4WTVdE

    • I’m putting this on my “must-own-albums” list.

      • Metaphysical Anus

        It has become one of my favourites from this year.

        • W.

          I’ll be curious to see your year-end list.

          • Metaphysical Anus

            So far I’ve been loving this year’s albums and there are still so many good albums to come.

          • Edward Meehan

            I’ll be curious to see your year-end list, W. Quite curious indeed.

          • W.

            There has been some upheaval. AEvangelist and Cloak of Altering might make it in!

          • Stockhausen

            Plague Beasts is abusively fantastic.

    • Unflushable!

      • Edward Meehan

        I’m listening to it now sounds solid and up my alley.

    • Mother Shabubu III

      Is this that band that has like a million albums all in different styles/genres from Finland?

      • Metaphysical Anus

        Yes. A lot of their stuff is krautrock and they’ve done some metal as well. Krautmetal?

    • Edward Meehan

      This is a good song Anus. This album is from this year?

      • Metaphysical Anus

        It was released this year and is a great album.

    • anus sweeps in with a flawless victory!!

      • Metaphysical Anus

        “Anus sweeps”. Ooh, that’s nasty.

  • W.

    This is one of the softer songs from a fantastic folk-influenced BM album from last year: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_p5AVqbi0c

    • Metaphysical Anus

      I seem to have missed this one. I regret this. Sounds really good. I need to check more of this out.

      • W.

        Some of the other tracks are much heavier, but this collaboration is great!

    • Edward Meehan

      This is on a folk black metal album?

      • W.

        Yup. This is one of like 3 slightly softer songs.

        • Edward Meehan

          How’s the black metal piece of it?

          • W.

            Solid. I heard of this album because of NCS. It was a very good release.

    • NDNOvHell

      Incredible.

      • W.

        Glad you like it.

  • Tyree

    I can get into this Edward. There is a lot of folk artists that I’m digging this year. Thanks man!

    • Edward Meehan

      Always happy to contribute a little something Tyree. By the looks of it, just here, I have a lot of shit I need to check out now though lol

      • Tyree

        Here is my contribution as well. Dark atmospheric folk by Giles Corey.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eO-eAldJmA8

        • Edward Meehan

          It’s a good thing I just got back from vacation and am not doing *anything* today except eating dinner at some point.

          • Tyree

            Hahaha, enjoy it all.

          • Edward Meehan

            I’m playing your track now, as intended =)

          • Tyree

            It’s bleak but I do enjoy it.

          • Tyree

            Lol, just read your about you: “Edward’s favorite subgenre of metal is post-blackened industrial stoner grind.” Yes dude! That’s totally a thing!

          • Edward Meehan

            … I should add gaze to the end of it. “grindgaze” lol.

          • Tyree

            Hahahaha! Not sure that should be a thing but it is certainly funny.

          • Edward Meehan

            I agree. Not sure it should be a thing but I wouldn’t be surprised if it became a thing sometime in the near future.

          • Metaphysical Anus

            You should add avant-garde there.

  • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

    Good stuff, gets me in the feels. Sort of thing I should listen to more, but Man, too little time to get into everything. People oughta pull out the oars and row us away from the Sun, make the days longer.

  • Semi-related–check this guy out. It’s like if deep-voiced-era Leonard Cohen played classical guitar and was extremely bummed out about the human race. When those vocals kick in at about 50 seconds, whoah!

    http://youtu.be/9CCw6ZgWk-U

    • Edward Meehan

      Definitely related imho

  • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

    Anyone see Manson shit the bed on SOA ?. It was about 4 minutes but it was enough to know it sucks. I think just bieber could have done a better job. Malcolm jamal warner is on it (cosby show) and he is ok (the beard helps). I just don’t buy manson as a hard ass nazi, he isn’t even cool as himself anymore. The rest of the show was good, 2 ultra brutal torture/killings , hopefully brian’s character will be the next victim.

  • Paris Hilton

    Folk is good music but I could never get into the aesthetic (looks do have to do with music, don’t even kid yourselves). Bunch a Colonel Sanders chicken slingin lookin motherfuckers.

  • NDNOvHell

    I’m really digging Songs: Ohia. Thanks for exposing me to this good sir.

    • Edward Meehan

      You’re welcome! Happy to hear you like it. He put out a lot of music, I have found some favorites from it but honestly I haven’t even gotten through all the music he made yet.

  • Paris Hilton

    I also really hate how romanticized alcoholism really is. It doesn’t make you a deep thinker, it isn’t fun, it isn’t a fucking party, it’s not fucking “soft grunge” or whatever. It fucking sucks. Every day you lie to everyone you love and yourself. You hate yourself and what you’re drinking. The only shred of false hope you fall for every fucking time is that the next time you get drunk it will be like the first time, and you can be happy again. It’s so sad to see it take another innocent life.

    -Signed, an ex-alcoholic and someone who has seen alcoholism destroy people from an early age.

    • Edward Meehan

      Well said. I just picked up a coin for seven years of sobriety last month, but I am one of the rare and lucky ones. I lost a close friend of mine in January 2013 from relapse and, well he committed suicide and I have had other close friends follow a similar dubious path but without the tragic ending, at least not yet.

      • Paris Hilton

        Good to hear, man! I didn’t go to a program but my family (especially my father who has been around it his whole life) and friends were all there for me when I need them the most. I don’t know what the reader thinks of faith, I just know I was very blessed to have the people and support I did.

        My uncle ended like that, too. He knew that if he drank again it would kill him. He chose vodka over life, which is what an alcoholic does his/her entire life anyway.

        • Edward Meehan

          … the reader?

          • Paris Hilton

            I didn’t know how to say “whoever reads this comment” haha

        • Edward Meehan

          My second job, my part time job is at an inpatient treatment center and the place is full of people with everything to lose that aren’t willing to make the necessary changes. Great reminder for me even though I imagine our success rate honestly isn’t that great (ditto for the industry as a whole, my place is great it’s just the nature of the business).

        • W.

          Congratulations on sobriety, Paris. Some of us here are more receptive to faith than others, but I’m glad you did what you had to do to get sober. I was never an alcoholic, but it definitely got bad enough to where it was affecting relationships. Thankfully, I haven’t been drunk in years.

      • Tyree

        Like I’ve said before, I respect you very much for your discipline, drive, and sobriety Edward. That is an amazing accomplishment sir. Alcoholism is in my family unfortunately and I’m around it mostly every day man. I can’t talk to most of my family with out having to drink with them. I drink every night after work and usually all day during the weekends mostly. I’m not proud of it, but I do it anyways. You inspire me to at least cut back a bit.

        • Paris Hilton

          There is always a way to come back from it, no matter how hopeless it feels. Anyone who has been through it knows that feeling of complete failure and hopelessness. It’s a shitty feeling man.

          • Tyree

            A shitty feeling indeed. Congratulations to you on your sobriety as well. I meant to write you in that comment too.

          • Edward Meehan

            Tyree if you ever want to chat about that via phone, email, whatever, I am always around and could make some time for it.

          • Tyree

            Hey, I appreciate it man! I’ll keep that in mind.

        • Tyree i’m like you, i do enjoy the booze (like my man McNulty). …i’m also an insanely happy person, so i know if this ever changes i’d better stop the booze intake!

    • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

      95% of the male members of my favorite were/are alcoholics. I am lucky because i hate the taste of it. I can sit with a beer for an hour and a half and not finish it. I will social drink. My addiction is sugar and salt, dr pepper is the monkey on my back. And i can’t just have one, once i get a taste i am back on 3 cans a day. Great comment, i have seen alcoholism my whole life and appreciate what you are saying.

      • I am the exact same way with soda, and Dr. Pepper in particular. It’s incredible how addicting caffeine and sugar are. I also hate the taste of most alcohol so I’m able to avoid that as well.

    • Xan

      I’ve seen how alcohol can destroy someone’s life (my dad). I don’t know if I have the self-control to handle it so I’ve never started drinking and will probably keep it that way. I’m perfectly happy in a sober frame of mind (although these fucking wax plugs are going to make shove a knife in my ear).

    • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

      here is a beyond important petition to get facebook to remove a video of a kitten being killed. I don’t know what is wrong with those sociopaths.
      chn.ge/1sbN9ps

      • Paris Hilton

        What kind a sick fuck kills a kitten!? The world we live in, man…

        • The Satan Ov Nvklear Hell

          Oh they’ll be a burnin’

      • Scrimm

        Fucking disgusting, those little bastards should be beaten on live television.

      • Metaphysical Anus

        I’m not a cat fan, but this is just sick. Signed this petition so fast.

      • Guppusmaximus

        I would drag that motherfucker out into the desert, break his hands, knees & elbows with a fucking bat and record what happens when some hungry coyotes come across his path!!

    • Janitor Jim Dvggan

      When it comes to things I deal with that fucking suck depression tops the list. I have to lie to everyone about being fine, I hate everybody except a very small group of people and like alcoholism it will never go away.

      • Paris Hilton

        I know the feel of depression too. It’s another thing that is sadly romanticized. Fuck depression, it sucks.

      • i suffered from depression as a teenager. i no longer do. i truly believe there is help out there. try to seek out all you can, there is a solution somewhere…

        • Steve Smithwick

          High five for slaughtering that miserable asshole depression, eh?!
          (fellow reformed sufferer, right here!)

    • Metaphysical Anus

      While I’ve never drank alcohol, I have experienced alcoholism. My father was an alcoholic. Thankfully he was never violent while drunk. Alcohol was also the end of him.

  • FeelTheDarkness

    I made a conscious decision to stop drinking when I turned 30. I haven’t had a drink in over 15 years but boy do I smoke a lot of pot.

  • Lord Ov Kapsko

    New Amogh Symphony is on spotify.